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Llamas on parade

By Staff | Apr 29, 2011

One of the hundreds of Llama at the Heartland Forum Llama Show in Webster City keeps an eye on things during the 2010 show.

WEBSTER CITY – For visitors to the upcoming Heartland Forum Llama Show on the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Webster City on Saturday and Sunday, there will be plenty to see and do while they meet the friendly animals and their friendlier owners.

Vicky Goble, of Vinton, will be setting up a display at the show to demonstrate how the wool from her alpacas and llamas is turned into various finished products that she sells.

She said it begins with shearing the animal. Next comes skirting, a cleaning process undertaken before the wool is carded in preparation for spinning, which makes it into yarn. She then either knits or weaves it.

The ready-to-knit yarn offers something not available with other materials.

“Each skein is unique,” she said.

Amber Bahr, of Eldora, introduces her llama, Agusto, to an umbrella during the intermediate public relations course at the annual Heartland Forum Llama Show on the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Webster City. The course introduces the animal to a number of different and unusual obstacles and objects. The less reaction, the better the score.

While many of those who raise llamas and alpacas participate in other aspects of the show, such as the agility trials, she is mainly interested in the fiber.

A new feature at the show this year will be a walking fiber judge.

“They actually judge the fiber on the animals,” she said. “It helps make the show more complete.”

She’s not only a strong advocate of using llama and alpaca fiber, she also carries a working project with her.

“I always carry a bag of yarn,” she said. “I knit everywhere.”

Jean DeBoom, of Algona, owns Santana Llamas. She said she has more than 60 animals.

She competes mostly in the confirmation events where the animals are judged on appearance and eye appeal. Other events include an obstacle course negotiated with the llama’s trainer, which she encourages the public to watch.

“People have no idea what capabilities they have,” DeBoom said.

She said success in the event depends on the animals trusting their handler.

The gentle nature of the animals is another reason she encourages visitors to come see them. They are also used in youth programs for children since they are easy to handle and unlikely to cause an injury.

For visitors planning on attending the show, what Goble readily calls, “the million dollar question,” has a two-part answer.

Yes, llamas can spit. No, they will not do so without some serious provocation.

DeBoom explained why they do it.

“That’s their warning to their competitors,” she said.

In her experience, the behavior is seen in such circumstances as competition for a food bucket or turf and, if it does happen, there’s a solution.

“It washes off and it won’t hurt you,” she said.

When meeting a llama, Goble explained the proper way to do so.

“Keep your hands behind your back and come in slowly, face first.” she said. “Let the llama come to you.”

For the llama fanciers at the show, an extended hand and hello work just fine. Unless about to enter the ring, most will be happy to spend some time with visitors.

“Llama people love to talk about their animals,” she said.

The show hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday on the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. There is no admission charge for the public to come watch the show.

Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or hmadsen@messengernews.net.

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